CTO of TealBook
When TealBook welcomed Arnold Liwanag as its new CTO in the summer of 2021, it was getting a powerful combination of supply chain experience and a long history with artificial intelligence (AI).
A student of the works of Geoffrey Hinton, a renowned British-Canadian cognitive psychologist and computer scientist most noted for his work on artificial neural networks, Liwanag was one of a lucky few in the world to be studying such a nascent topic in the early 2000s, which led to an early career of cleaning data, integrating it, and ensuring it was of good enough quality to input into the early AI systems that were in development at the time.
“I got to really experience the genesis of modern artificial intelligence methods and the technology as it's used today. I’ve carried that thought process and understanding of AI’s potential through my career. I'm privileged to be able to really take advantage of it in the latter half of my career, in terms of how cloud technologies, the compute, and different kinds of enablers allow modern AI to happen. I've been able to experience that and put it to practise,” he said.
A great fit for TealBook
Liwanag has led both technology and AI strategy at PwC and overseen many large-scale technology implementations. When Liwanag was a CTO of an AI consulting company called IVADO labs, he developed bespoke AI solutions targeted at supply chain problems. TealBook recognised he was a great fit for what the company needed.
“It was great to work for some fairly large, Fortune 500 companies, building transformational AI solutions. It was clear that those major benefits could be realised through AI, but a big roadblock was the data itself.”
According to Liwanag, data is fundamental to making artificial intelligence effective. Having experienced it and gone through the grind, he is all too aware that half the effort of projects he was involved in required cleaning of the data, integrating the data, and ensuring it was a good enough quality to input into the AI systems.
“I mean, fundamentally data was always an underlying theme. Seeing the impact of its blockers on driving and enabling transformational technology and artificial intelligence kind of irked me a little bit,” he said.
This really drove Liwanag to look for companies that understand this problem, which is why he was a great culture fit for TealBook.
Complex decisions can be calculated
Liwanag says a pivotal moment in his life was when he began viewing intelligence from a mathematical perspective, rather than as a mysterious black box: “It was really eye opening, I would say. That viewpoint of how complex decisions can be calculated. And behaviour, to a certain extent, has a level of calculation in it. Although obviously, behaviour is a higher level than just simple decisions; the point is to be able to think that these things can be calculated. Actions kind of driven through those calculations have really changed my perspective on a lot of things,” he said.
Golden Age again?
The keen surfer also greatly enjoys philosophical topics around artificial intelligence and even beyond AI and into emerging tech. It’s a space he has lived in while at PwC strategy and he notices, within the tech ecosystem, these technologies have compounding effects on each other.
With the likes of 5G, the IoT, AI and machine learning, and quantum computing coming to market almost simultaneously, it changes the landscape.
“I liken it to another Golden Age, similar to around the 1910s and 1920s, when cars came out, electricity became more pervasive and a whole bunch of innovations shot up out of nowhere. They evolved and made it to market roughly all within a short period of time. I feel like we're at that point in time again,” said Liwanag.
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Take care of quality early: work with your suppliers, understand what can be done, put controls in place to minimise risks, lock down a process, and you will set yourself up for success.